Mystic Falls on the Little Firehole River & Biscuit Basin Overlook

SUMMARY: Mystic Falls is a spectacular 70 ft waterfall where the Little Firehole River drops from the Madison Plateau on its way to join the Firehole River in the Upper Geyser Basin. Mystic Falls is a large cascade dropping through a narrow, sheer walled section of the River canyon. Unlike some cascades that only roar with the spring and early summer snowmelt, Mystic Falls is grand in September. Steam rises from hot springs along the way. Buffalo and deer frequent the valley. Wildflowers are in abundance in July and early August. From the Biscuit Basin Parking Area follow the footbridge across the Firehole River and continue on the boardwalk across the basin. There are many interesting thermal features to view as you cross the basin. Don’t miss Sapphire Pool. On the west side of the basin, the trail leaves the boardwalk, and passes through a mixed conifer forest. At the fork in the trail, stay to the left and hike the 3 mile Mystic Falls and Biscuit Basin Loop in a clockwise direction. The trail follows the north side of the River and in a little more than ½ mile the waterfalls comes into view. After viewing the Waterfalls from below, continue up the rather steep trail to several good overlooks. The trail then continues up switchbacks to gain the rim of the plateau. Continuing on the loop trail brings you to a scenic overlook on the edge of the Madison Plateau. From this vantage point, about 500 feet above Biscuit Basin and the Firehole River, if your timing is good, you might observe eruptions of the major geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin. Old Faithful Inn can be seen in the distance. This easy to moderate hike has great rewards for a modest effort. The trail is well maintained with gentle switchbacks in the steepest parts of the trail. The trail is restricted to foot travel.

RATING: Easy to moderate 3 mile roundtrip. The moderate rating is solely because of the approximately 500 foot elevation gain. Make sure to take appropriate clothing, including raingear and drinking water. The weather and temperatures can change suddenly. The road from the Old Faithful Area and the Biscuit Basin Parking Area are paved and well maintained.

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO HIKE: Early June until the snow flies (mid-September-early October). The trail is in a NPS Bear Management Area and is closed each year until the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. It is recommended that you check with a ranger at the Old Faithful Visitors Center to get the latest report on the Trail’s condition and determine if there is a bear warning in effect. The Old Faithful Visitors Center is located a short distance east of Old Faithful Inn.

AMOUNT OF TIME NEEDED: Allow 5 to 10 minutes each way to drive from the Old Faithful Visitors Center parking area to the parking for Biscuit Basin which is 2 miles north of Old Faithful Junction. A very fit hiker, stopping at Mystic Falls for 5-10 minutes and again stopping at the Overlook, might complete the 3 mile loop in less than 2 hours. Why rush? Allow 3 hours for a leisurely adventure. Take time to observe the new growth forest following the devastating 1988 wildfires. Linger along the Little Firehole River. Observe the wildflowers. Photograph a buffalo, a deer or perhaps an elk. Take a snack and hang out at the Biscuit Basin Overlook. The panorama of Biscuit Basin, the Firehole River and the Upper Geyser Basin is a photographer’s dream.

DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD: From the Old Faithful Visitors Center parking area drive northwest to Old Faithful Junction, staying in the right lane. At Old Faithful Junction, turn right toward Madison Junction on to the Grand Loop Road. Two miles north of Old Faithful Junction, turn left (west) into the Biscuit Basin Parking Area. Biscuit Basin is well marked.